If you or a loved one is facing a serious illness, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital has a special team of clinicians to support you and your primary physician with your concerns. The palliative care team is available to help with relief of pain, discomfort or distress, defining goals of treatment and establishing advance care planning, as well as supporting the patient and family if physical decline occurs - all without giving up aspects of curative care.
Mission of the palliative care program at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital:
- To relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for patients with chronic or life-threatening illnesses and their families.
- Identify, honor and respect the preferences of the patient and family through careful attention to their values, goals and priorities, as well as their cultural and spiritual perspectives.
- Assist patients with honesty and compassion in establishing goals of care by facilitating their understanding of their diagnosis and prognosis, clarifying priorities, promoting informed choices and providing an opportunity for negotiating a care plan with providers.
- Strive to meet patients' preferences about care settings, living situations and services, recognizing the uniqueness of these preferences and the barriers to accomplishing them.
- Encourage advance care planning, including advance directives, through ongoing dialogue among providers, patient and family.
- Recognize the potential for conflicts among patient, family, providers and payers, and develop processes to work toward resolution.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care refers to patient-and-family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering. Palliative care throughout the continuum of illness involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs and facilitating patient autonomy, access to information and choice. -National Quality Forum (2006)
Who provides care?
Hospitalized patients receive care from hospitalists - physicians specially-trained to diagnose and treat acute problems requiring hospitalization. Outpatient care is provided primarily by the patient's attending physician. As consultants, the palliative care team assists both hospitalists and primary care physicians with treatment and support of both hospitalized and ambulatory patients.
Barbara Stuart, RN, CHPN, Palliative Care Nurse Coordinator, leads the palliative care team which includes hospital-based social workers, case managers, chaplains, therapists, dietitians and pharmacists. Each palliative care patient is evaluated daily when hospitalized and reviewed weekly by the entire palliative care team.
How can a palliative care consultation be initiated?
Only the patient's attending physician or specialty consultant can initiate a palliative care consultation by writing an order and reason for consultation. Outpatients are seen in the Seacoast Palliative Care Clinic or Seacoast Cancer Center, both located at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. The palliative care team consults with inpatients throughout the hospital, as well as in the emergency room if requested.